Negotiating College Financial Aid

Many families wonder if it is possible to negotiate to receive additional financial assistance once they receive financial aid packages from colleges. This is a complex question that depends on numerous factors. One thing that can improve, but not necessarily guarantee, the possibility of receiving more assistance is the ability to demonstrate additional financial need with solid evidence. Another factor is if a family’s financial circumstances have changed significantly since they submitted the FAFSA(Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form. Some examples of such changes include the addition of a family member, the loss of a job, a serious family illness leading to large medical bills, or the death of a parent. These situations certainly represent changes in a family’s financial need and should be communicated to the college office of financial aid.

Another possible source of negotiation is if one discovers that an error was committed when completing the FAFSA. Any such errors should be communicated to the office of financial aid. Some colleges do show greater flexibility than others in the awarding of additional financial aid. The high quality of student compared to the average admission profile at some, but not all, schools can give a family additional negotiating power.

Some college financial aid officers have expressed that they appreciate when a student, not his or her parents, advocates for more aid. This demonstrates that the student is taking responsibility for his or her financial future.

Most college financial aid officers are dedicated professionals that work diligently to make sure that students get all of the aid for which they qualify. It is important for students to always communicate with these professionals in a courteous and respectful way.

For a more detailed review of this subject check out Appealing to a College for More Financial Aid by Ron Lieber as it appeared in the My Money section of the New York Times on April 4, 2014.